Centenary of the Great War

MASKS ON: Always aware of the threat of poison gas, two Diggers pose for their photo at the front line. Photo: The Digger’s View by Juan MahonyNewcastle Morning Herald transcriptions and Hunter Valley enlistment and death details for March 4-10, 1918.

AUSTRALIAN RAIDSMr Gordon Gilmour, special correspondent on the West Front for the n and New Zealand Press Agency, reporting on Monday, says: “I saw a big batch of ns today, who are in training for a raid upon German positions, at a point where it is known that every blow is particularly harassing to the enemy.

The boys are taking a fiendish delight in the operation, proof of which is given by the fact that out of a body of troops exclusively from the New South Wales country districts and northern towns, three times the number required volunteered for the raid, such is the universal keenness to get a real slap at the Bosches. Among the most enthusiastic are many young arrivals, who have not yet had a real chance in the open. When I entered a hut full of chosen raiders behind the lines, the moment for action was drawing near on Sunday. Most had already taken the precaution of writing letters to those at home, leaving them to be forwarded in the event of mishap; but the hut resounded with laughter, despite which some were sleeping soundly, and others playing cards. There was not a gloomy man among them. Having made up their minds for the job, and being determined to carry it through thoroughly, they had learned every detail by heart, so that a mistake was impossible. Now they awaited the order to go forward, and were supposed to be resting, yet some outside were exuberantly kicking footballs. Indeed, the whole team of raiders seemed to regard the event much like a football match. Those men were not recruited by promises of rewards. They explained to me that they only wanted an opportunity to kill Fritz, because a Newcastle man added:- “It’s got to be done, if we are to get back to before we are old men.”

When General Birdwood addressed the group of raiders as “cobbers” he was proud of, they were pleased, but listened stolidly to the reference to their bravery. They did not think it brave. It was just a job, and a job worth doing. Earlier successful slaughtering raids made them eager to participate. The raiders included several Gallipoli men and others who had been three times wounded.

CARDIFF MAN IN FRANCEMr McRae, of Cardiff, has received the following letter from his son, Corporal Norman McRae, dated from Rhyl (Wales) Military Hospital, December 31, 1917: “Tomorrow is New Year’s Day, and to me it will be a lot different to the one I experienced 12 months ago. Then I was up to my knees in water and mud, with shells whizzing about, but this time – well, you know what civil life is; and that is practically what it is for us now. I have often made up my mind, since I got wounded, to let you know a little about my experiences in France, I don’t suppose you will know, but, at the time I went to France there was a whole division (3rd), including artillery, engineers, pioneers, A.M.C., etc., went across, so you will see that we were all fresh troops, hardly any of whom had ever seen a shell. We landed in France on the 22nd November, and on the 27th we were in the firing line, having relieved an English regiment, in front of Armentieres. We stayed there until two days before Christmas, when we were relieved by our next brigade. We marched back to a small village a few miles from one of the most important towns on the Western front. Our parcels and mail arrived on Christmas Eve, and you can imagine with what delight they were received. I was lucky enough to receive my first mail from home. We had a fortnight at this place, then marched to “Jesus Farm,” on the way back to Armentieres. From this time (19th January), right up till June, we were constantly moving from one sector to another, until we reached “Ploegsteert Wood” (or Plugstreet as the boys call it). This place was recognised as one of the liveliest places along the front at the time. This wood once belonged to King Albert of Belgium, and before the war must have been a wonderful place. As it was, the place was still beautiful, and hardly knocked about at all. However, it was full of guns, as preparations were going on for an offensive. On the night of June 6th we left __, about four miles behind the line, in battle order, to march up to the line, with a full knowledge of what we were going for. At 3.10 amon the 7th, we “hopped the bags,” after the explosion of 19 gigantic mines, the like of which I had never heard before, and don’t want to hear again. It was awful. We didn’t meet much opposition, but what we did meet was finished in the usual style. We managed to hold what we had taken, and were relieved after putting in three days of hard work. We were given a fortnight’s rest after this to recuperate and receive reinforcements, which were badly needed. After this spell, we “hiked” our packs back once more to the line, to the scenes of Captain Bairnsfather’s first sketches. This was just behind Messines. It wasn’t very long before we went into the line again, but it was 36 days before we got out again. Of all the bad days I have had on active service, I think those were by far the worst. We were under shell fire all the time. Night after night we had to wear gas masks, for old Fritz strongly believes in his gas shells. After this little lot, we were given two months’ spell. During this time I got my stripes. From this place we went to Winnizeele, some miles behind Ypres, and after four days’ rest were taken up in motor lorries to the line. We went into Zonnebeke, and put in a week. There were no trenches, only shell-holes half full of water. It was some place; both sides continually shelling. When we came back to Winnizeele, there was many an old face missing. We only stopped here a couple of days, and then once more motor lorries carried us back to Ypres, sadly under strength. We put up in tents for a night, and then once more prepared to go over the top. This was on October 11th. At 5.25 a.m., 12th October, after a night of constant rain and shelling, we hopped over, with Passchendaele Ridge as an objective. No sooner had our barrage opened than a veritable hail of bullets rained on us. We struck bogs, and trees joined together with wire, through which we had to force our way. On safely getting through this lot, I must have resembled some of the chaps who patronised the ‘Dudley Express’ (miners’ train). I was covered in mud from head to foot. We had to fight our way right to our objective, using both rifle, bayonet and bomb freely. I managed to stay the distance, but was wounded shortly after arriving. To this day I can’t remember how I managed to get back to the dressing station. Sufficient to say that I am In ‘Blighty’, having a real good spell, for the first time since leaving . I have heard that reinforcements are not available to make up the battalions to their fighting strength. For my part, I am glad conscription has been rejected, but, on the other hand, we must have men to keep us going. Taking things as they are, at present, I foresee at least one of our divisions being broken up to reinforce the others, and one division less means more work for those remaining. God knows they have enough now to do, without more being put on their shoulders.

TRIBUTE TO BRITISH WOMENLieutenant T. Laurie Adam, of Wickham, writing from Third London General Hospital, Wardsworth, under date 10th November, 1917, speaks highly of the great work of the women of England.

“Last Friday was Lord Mayor’s Day. There was a naval, military, and civil procession. In the morning a wealthy businessman, Mr. Howard Williams, came to the hospital with a number of motor omnibuses, and took us away into town, gave us a luncheon, and then arranged seats for us in his shop window. This gave us a view of the whole procession, and it was some procession, too! Sailors, soldiers, munition girls and girl farm workers. We cheered those girls! The work they are doing is absolutely wonderful. Some of the munition girls are quite yellow through working so constantly among explosives, and they cannot live much longer. And yet they had to adopt conscription in a country like England, where more girls are dying a slow death, that we might have sufficient shells out in France. My God! It hurts! And in , the country of which we have all boasted over here, turned conscription down, while the women of England are giving their lives that we might be saved when out on the battlefields of France and Belgium. I wonder what has become of our manhood. Knowing these things, you can quite imagine the pity we felt for these great, grand women, and the spirit we put into that cheering. I hope they understand.”

BELMONTThere was a large gathering in the Belmont Hall on Saturday night to welcome home Private Walter Marks, who has returned from the front. Private Marks left Sydney on May 1, 1916, and landed In England on July 9th, where he remained for four months. He proceeded to France on 21st November, and took part in the big push at Messines, where he was seriously wounded in the chest. After remaining in hospital at Abbeville, on the Somme, for three months, he was transferred to Notley, near Southampton, England on August 8, 1917.

Private Marks speaks highly of the attention he received from the doctors and nurses. It is a very large hospital, a quarter of a mile in length, and accommodates 5000 patients. He left England on December 17th, and arrived in Belmont on February 16th. The hall was nicely decorated with foliage and bunting. The welcome home, which took the form of a social, was presided over by Mr. W. G. Hall. Private Marks was carried on shoulder high by two of his old school mates, Messrs Norman Campbell and Jack Lunn (the former being a returned soldier), the audience singing “Home, Sweet Home.” Mr. Hall said Private Marks had played the man, and on behalf of the residents of Belmont asked his acceptance of a gold medal as a token of their appreciation. Private Marks said he appreciated their action in welcoming him home. He had done his best while away, and would, in the near future, if his health permitted, and his services were required, be willing to again fight for . Refreshments were served by the Red Cross ladies. Votes of thanks were accorded to all who had assisted. The remainder of the evening was spent in dancing.

WICKHAMMrs Bond, the Mayoress of Wickham, has received the following brief letter from Trooper Terrance J. Ganger, Second Light Horse, Palestine, under date January 3:“Just a line of thanks from my comrades and myself to you and the Wickham Patriotic Committee for the Christmas gifts, which we received. I may say that we were all delighted with them. The boys are exceedingly pleased to see that they are not forgotten by the folks of bonny . Best wishes from all.”

ENLISTMENTSStanley Vincent Baker, Tomalla; Ulick Lancelot Bourke, Merewether; Joseph Jacobs, Newcastle; David Haddon McNair, Islington; Basil Wynne Spring, Newcastle.

DEATHSL/Cpl Herbert Leslie Elvin, Cessnock; Sapper Robert John Hampton, Dungog.

Horoscopes: week beginning March 11, 2018

ARIES: The next ten weeks will see a build-up of responsibilities and emphasis on career interests as a deadline looms and passes on April 18. Situations often take time to develop naturally, so this is all par for the course although you may not feel like it at the time. Be prepared for delays in these matters between April 18 and September 6.

TAURUS: An overseas trip, impending legal matter, or education interest is quite important to Taureans over the coming ten weeks. Situations are not resolved quickly and delays in or around all these matters can be expected between April 18 and September 6. Thorough preparation in these matters brings favourable results.

GEMINI: A matter of financial importance, whether to do with a will, taxation, insurance, superannuation, or partnership income, is emphasised during the coming ten weeks. You need to be patient and practical with these matters, which will take time to work through. Expect delays between April 18 and September 6.

CANCER: Partnership, whether business or personal, naturally provides strength for Cancer but also entails heavy responsibilities. Such matters are currently emphasised, bringing to a head some of these issues in the ten weeks around April 18. Attend to important matters before that date, lest there be delays.

LEO: Leonine characters are carrying a heavy work load, during the next ten weeks, that is likely to be marked by delays due to the nature of that work. Steady efforts and routines make the situation more manageable, but be prepared for increased workload around April 18. Decks may not be cleared for a number of months.

VIRGO: Virgo’s fortunes are building in strength during the next few months, reaching a peak in the weeks around April 18. This can bring a solid opportunity that enhances your life or one of your children. It’s likely that you’ve been working on this for some time and is a work in progress. A great deal of satisfaction is likely to ensue.

LIBRA: There’s strength in numbers and in family, and the next ten weeks will certainly highlight this point. April 18 and the weeks around it is important in this regard, marked by enhanced feelings of security through family and a place to call home. This is likely to be a slowly developing situation, occurring in phases, so expect more later in the year too.

SCORPIO: April 18 and the weeks leading up to it are important for putting plans in place, dealing with transport issues (such as cars), and negotiations. Make the most of this time as it is easier to bring things to fruition before then. Following that date until September 6, these situations can be complicated by delays due to various reasons.

SAGITTARIUS: Sagittarius’ strength in money matters tends to take time to build, particularly where income and wealth are concerned, unless it is inherited. You are working tirelessly towards these ends in the weeks to April 18, but after that date there may be delays for a number of months in financial processing. Keep on top of things!

CAPRICORN: New heights of achievement are attained by Capricorn during the weeks to April 18, when there is a relentless push to bring order and form to your life and living conditions. However, between that date and early September, these energies subside as a natural part of the ebb and flow of living that occurs annually.

AQUARIUS: Aquarians currently require greater patience in dealing with various aspects of their life, particularly at a personal level. Things may not be resolved as quickly as you would like or to your complete satisfaction. This is only for a time. In the meantime, do what you can and bide your time until the timing is right. You will know it when it arrives.

PISCES: Pisceans are building their dreams and bringing them to reality at the moment, or at least putting the elementary aspects of these goals into place at the moment. There’s much to be done in the weeks to April 18 so don’t waste time, but don’t overdo it either. If not all is in place by then, there’ll be further opportunities later in the year.

© Alison Moroney, 2018 [email protected]苏州楼凤www.alisonmoroney苏州楼凤

Melbourne firies get generous leave deal

A new enterprise agreement could see Victorian firies take 196 days off work a year with full pay.Victorian taxpayers will fork out $150 million for a new pay deal for Melbourne firefighters that includes almost 200 days personal and other leave a year.

Metropolitan Fire Brigade firefighters will vote on the long-awaited enterprise bargaining agreement on Friday

United Firefighters Union secretary Peter Marshall said technically firefighters could take all that leave but they’d have to have someone die in the family, be adopting someone, be a carer for a family member and be in an abusive relationship.

“So it is a nonsense to say they have got that much leave,” he told AAP.

“We did a comparison in the building industry and it is almost the same if you add up all the leaves. All those leaves are industry standards.”

State Emergency Services Minister James Merlino said on Tuesday the agreement cost is “in the order of $150 million and that’s fully accounted for in the budget”.

“If you’re in a burning home and you’ve got a firefighter bashing through the door to save you and your children, do you think you care what they’re paid or what allowances they receive?”

The deal reportedly includes a $1200 second language allowance and an “availability allowance” for commanders worth 5.5 per cent of their salary.

Firefighters who have been on the job for more than two years will be eligible for 99 days of personal and sick leave a year, on top of 65 days’ annual leave.

By comparison, frontline Ambulance Victoria paramedics are entitled to up to 50 days of annual leave and Victoria Police officers get 45 days.

The agreement also included provisions for 10 days of community service leave and five days of union training, which alongside the state’s 13 public holidays added up to 196 days.

The minister said it wasn’t “a massive increase in leave entitlements”.

“There are various clauses in regards to leave but to think that every firefighter would add every single one of those leave provisions in one year is just completely unrealistic,” he said.

Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner Kristen Hilton reportedly raised concerns with Mr Merlino and the MFB board over the deal just days before the latter endorsed it.

The commissioner has been investigating both the Country Fire Authority and MFB and its report has been tangled up in a legal bid by the United Firefighters Union to block its release.

However, details of the report were leaked to The Age which on Tuesday reported on claims of entrenched bullying, “everyday sexism” and a “hyper-masculine culture” in the MFB.

Opposition emergency services spokesman Brad Battin wants Friday’s vote delayed until the report is released publicly in full.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy called the deal a “stinking, rorting mess” and repeated his pledge for a royal commission into the fire services if the coalition wins government in November.

The saga involving the MFB and CFA pay deals saw former emergency service minister Jane Garrett resign in 2016 and a succession of fire service executives quit.

NSW government to put cap on pokies

High-risk communities in NSW will have their number of gaming machines capped under new laws.Communities in NSW already vulnerable to gambling won’t be able to get more pokies under new laws proposed by the NSW government.
SuZhou Night Recruitment

But the NSW Greens and the Alliance for Gambling Reform say the proposed reforms won’t solve the current pokie crisis in the state.

Under the gambling reform legislation, which was introduced to state parliament on Tuesday, 20 per cent of the state would be unable to have additional poker machines.

“Communities considered to be more vulnerable to gambling will be a no-go zone for additional machines,” NSW Racing Minister Paul Toole told reporters on Tuesday.

High-risk communities will be decided based on their socio-economic level as determined by the n Bureau of Statistics.

Socio-economic factors will now have a 70 per cent weighting when regulators assess gaming machine applications.

Much of western Sydney including Fairfield, Liverpool, Cabramatta, Horsley Park and Bankstown will be capped as well as parts of the Hunter region, mid north coast and country towns in western NSW.

Fairfield in Sydney’s west is one of the biggest poker machine hotspots, with more than 3300 machines in clubs in the area compared to 118 in Woollahra in Sydney’s east.

However, any applications for additional machines made before Tuesday will be exempt from the proposed legislation and will instead be assessed under the old regulations.

The proposed reforms have been slammed by the NSW Greens who say they don’t include the measures which stop the addictive features of the machines which exploit people.

“They don’t rein in predatory behaviour from clubs and hotels to maximise profits and they don’t keep people and communities safe,” Greens MP Justin Field said in a statement on Tuesday.

Mr Field called on the government to introduce one dollar maximum bets and come up with a plan to rapidly reduce the number of pokies across the state.

“A cap on poker machines in vulnerable areas won’t have a real impact on harm if pokies remain embedded in our communities in clubs and hotels and these addictive machines continue to exploit vulnerable people,” he said.

Alliance for Gambling Reform NSW spokeswoman Allison Keogh said the government was failing to protect ordinary people.

“Councils like Fairfield already have more machines than the whole of Tasmania,” she said in a statement on Tuesday.

Ms Keogh said the number of machines in areas such as Fairfield needed to be reduced not just capped.

The reforms also include increased penalties for wagering, making operators personally liable if they offer unlawful inducements and will bolster measures to address problem gambling across the state.

Some of the current local government area hotspots for gaming machines in hotels and clubs include Blacktown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Sydney’s inner west, Central Coast, and Sydney city.

Govt wants to crack down on online trolls

Federal Minister for Women Kelly O’Dwyer plans to crack down on online trolls.Social media and tech giants will be hauled in for regular meetings as the Turnbull government’s new minister for women seeks to crack down on online bullying and internet trolls.
SuZhou Night Recruitment

Marking International Women’s Day, Kelly O’Dwyer used her first major speech in the portfolio to announce she would hold quarterly meetings with Facebook, Google, Twitter, Microsoft and Instagram.

Also present at the meetings will be Communications Minister Mitch Fifield, Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins and eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman-Grant.

“I think it’s very important that they get a perspective from women and the impact that these online tools can have on women,” Ms O’Dwyer told the National Press Club on Tuesday.

“Those regular meetings will mean that we hold their feet to the fire, we make sure that where they have policies (on bullying and abuse) that those policies don’t sit on a shelf, that they are properly instituted and they’re properly enforced.”

The government was also not afraid of further strengthening laws if needed to protect vulnerable people online, as it is with revenge porn legislation now before parliament.

Ms O’Dwyer also announced a massive expansion of the sex discrimination commission’s five-yearly survey on workplace sexual harassment to this year cover 10,000 participants, up from 2000 previously.

The survey results will be released in April and the minister said the government would examine in particular how workplaces are taking account of sexual harassment in the social media age.

“As the ‘me too’ movement continues to sweep the world, we need to think about the implications, both good and bad, that come with airing allegations in a public forum,” she said.

“Social media is not a courtroom and complainants – and those who are the subject of complaints – can be subject to trial by keyboard warriors.

“We need to be careful that this public push doesn’t silence the very women it wants to help.”

Ms O’Dwyer also hinted the government may use the May budget to match Labor’s pledge to re-fund the n Bureau of Statistics to conduct regular “time use” surveys, which allow for the economic benefit of unpaid caring and work in the home to be calculated.

Greens out to ‘destroy’ with EU roo trip

Senator Lee Rhiannon has been slammed for promoting a documentary critical of kangaroo culling.The Greens have been accused of spreading lies and trying to destroy the kangaroo meat industry while meeting with European politicians.
SuZhou Night Recruitment

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud slammed Senator Lee Rhiannon over her visit to Brussels, where she is promoting a controversial documentary that questions the extent of kangaroo culling in .

The EU is a key market for the $175 million industry as the biggest importer of premium cuts.

But the Greens senator and the filmmaker behind Kangaroo: A Love-Hate Story say the practices involved in harvesting 1.6 million wild roos annually need to be exposed.

Senator Rhiannon is leading a three-person delegation that’s due to meet with European Parliament members on Tuesday about what they argue are the “major risks” to the marsupial’s future.

She says population and growth rates are inflated and that millions of undocumented dependent joeys are killed every decade.

Government regulation advises the young of culled animals be euthanised with a blunt object as soon as possible.

“We will use the evidence to show that kangaroos are in trouble,” Senator Rhiannon said.

Mr McIntyre, who self-funded the film with Kate McIntyre Clere, says in undertaking a wider examination of the cultural icon, he was shocked to discover the methods used to kill the animals.

He says he isn’t out to destroy the industry.

“But do we really want to be bashing joeys’ heads against tow bars?” he said.

The senator, who funded her own trip, and the filmmaker were separately invited to the Brussels premiere hosted by Dutch political party Party for the Animals.

The agriculture minister accused Senator Rhiannon of spreading false information in a significant export market.

“It’s absolutely disgusting that she would go over there and try and destroy the kangaroo industry that has huge potential for jobs in regional ,” Mr Littleproud told reporters on Tuesday.

About five million roos were harvested in the three years to 2015 from a population of about 45 million, according to government data.

ANU zoologist George Wilson says animal activists’ arguments against factory farming can be supported by some evidence but likened those against roo harvesting to a “noisy minority” in the climate change debate.

“In this case, all they have is their ideology running a line that really does not bear any scientific scrutiny,” Dr Wilson said.

The film, which screened in the US ahead of Day, is due to have its n premiere in Sydney on March 13.

What you need to know from ABARES’ Outlook 2018

National farm commodities forecaster, Agricultural Bureau of Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) has released its latest forecastsfor the agricultural industry as part of today’s Outlook conferencein Canberra.
SuZhou Night Recruitment

Poor global grain prices and a seasonally-stressed national grain harvest will wipe five per cent off the gross value of ’s farm production this financial year, but farmers are still expected to reap historically solid average incomes in 2017-18.

ABARESis tipping farm production to be worth $59 billion in 2017-18, then to recover in 2018-19 to $61b, and $63b (in current dollar values) by 2022.

The minor setback in the overall value of ’s farm sector did not dampen the enthusiasm of Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, who opened proceedings in his first Outlook conference in the portfolio.

Mr Littleproud said the future was optimistic with 1.2pc growth forecast for both the overall sector and exports, tipped to reach $63b and $50b by 2023, respectively.

“This shows we’re headed in the right direction,” Mr Littleproud said.

Read more here.

Here’s what is in store for individual commodities:Hot global beef competition to flow back to the saleyardSenior government agriculture economists appear to be putting more weight in international beef trade dynamics than other analysts, forecasting a 15 per cent fall in saleyard cattle prices this financial year as a flow-on of red hot competition in markets like Japan and the United States.

ABAREShas the 2017-18 weighted average saleyard price of beef cattle at 455 cents per kilogram, which is slightly lower than many in the industry expected.

Read more here.

Global wheat market weak to 2023The global wheat market is expected to remain subdued beyond 2023, with rising production in the Black Sea regionset to push prices tonear-record lows.

The world wheat indicator price is forecast to rise modestly by 6 per cent in 2018-19 to $234, up from US$221 last year.

In response toconsecutive years of low prices, major exportnations are forecast to curb production to 742 million tonnes, following a 1pc reduction in the area planted to wheat.

Read more here

Pay day for sheep farmersn sheep farmers are cashing in on historic meat and wool prices, as average farm income for the sector hits a 20-year high of $170,000 this financial year.

Figures from ABARESreleased today show sheep producers received an estimated 35 per cent pay rise, on the back of 6pc rise in saleyard prices for lamb and a lucrative 15pc spike in wool prices.

The hero of sheep farmers’ pay rise is wool’s significant growth in prices.

Read more here.

Global growth signals upsidefor cotton growersGlobal cotton prices are in for a bumpy ride in coming years, according to the ABARES 2018 Outlook report.

Good prices and favourable growing conditions have driven an increase in cotton supplies, spurring a forecast 2 per cent drop in Cotlook A index global indicator, taking it to US81 cents per pound in 2017–18 (the August to July marketing year).

However, increasing global demand for cotton driven by a growing global economy is expected to deliver a 5pc rise to 85 cents per pound in 2018-19.

Read about the full outlook here.

Nuts and fruit helping hort to soarFruit and nuts are set to drive n horticulture’s production value to $13.6 billion in 2022-23.

The healthy forecast comes from the ABARESOutlook 2018 report for the March quarter, released today.

Much of that optimism comes from a rise in exports of n nuts and fruit, particularly to the seemingly insatiable Chinese appetite.

Read more here.

Milk production on the riseUsing incomes, more people and the ongoing Westernisation of diets will continue to fuel demand for dairy products on a global stage, underpinning prospects for increased production in .

Analysts with the ABARESsay world dairy prices will average higher this financial year but growth in the volume of exportable supplies after that will see most prices fall marginally.

World supplies are expected to grow faster than demand as major exporting countries, including , expand output.

Read the full outlook here.

Avos continue their cautious climbThe staggering growth of the n avocado industry has prompted many observers to ask if the avo bubble will ever burst.

According to the ABARES, while the sailing is currently smooth for the sector, there are some potential submerged obstacles that could be approaching.

A three-year wait time for nursery trees is a commonly referred-to figure within the industry but the mass plantings of recent years could soon create some nervous growers.

Read more here.

Other nations look to get in on ‘s “clean green” hort export strategy might trade off its quality and “green” status but it’s a strategy its export competitors are increasingly copying.

A special report within today’s ABARESOutlook 2018 agricultural commodities report casts a spotlight on ‘s comparative advantages for exporting fresh produce.

While it outlines that global demand has been growing strongly and is expected to continue, there are increasing moves by other southern hemisphere nations, and even China, to lift environmental farming status and produce quality, moves that could cause alarm for Aussie growers.

Read more here.

Blueberry production leaps aheadThen blueberry industry has more than doubled its production in the past five years.

The impressive figure comes from ABARES’ Outlook 2018 agricultural commodities report for the March quarter.

The report puts the significant growth down, in part, to extensive plantings now coming online.

n production has leapt to 6800 tonnes, with a bigger goal on the horizon.

Read more here.

Pineapples facing import competitionThe long-established pineapple industry faces a tough road ahead with imported processed fruit jostling for shelf space.

Pineapples are given a special mention within the ABARES’Outlook 2018 agricultural commodities report for the March quarter, released today.

In 2015–16 the n pineapple industry reported having 1176 hectares of non-bearing area to contribute to future production (equivalent to 73 per cent of 2015–16 bearing area).

Read more here.

Here’s what was being said online:

Tigers re-sign Hardwick as AFL coach

Premiership-winning Richmond AFL coach Damien Hardwick has signed a new three-year deal.Premiership mentor Damien Hardwick is set to become Richmond’s longest-serving AFL coach after signing a three-year contract extension.
SuZhou Night Recruitment

Hardwick has coached the Tigers in 182 AFL games and will pass club legends Tom Hafey (248 games) and Jack Dyer (222) with the new deal.

The 45-year-old, appointed in late 2009 after Terry Wallace’s sacking, is tied to the club until the end of the 2021 season.

The mastermind of last year’s upset grand-final win over Adelaide was mobbed by his players on Tuesday when chief executive Brendon Gale told them the news at Punt Road.

“Four finals series in five years, culminating in a drought-breaking premiership, was massive for the club,” Gale said in his address.

“Huge credit to him, huge credit to the coaching department, the football department, huge credit for the extent to which he’s invested and committed to you guys and huge credit to the way you’ve committed to him as well.

“It’s obvious in the way you played (last year) so, on that basis, no surprise – we’re going to extend his contract for three years out to 2021.”

The move caps a stunning comeback for Hardwick who had been under intense pressure to keep his job when the Tigers slumped to 13th at the end of the 2016 season.

He underwent a period of reflection and soul-searching after that ill-fated campaign and adopted a fresh approach before the 2017 season that culminated in the club’s first premiership since 1980.

“Damien just stripped it right back,” Gale told SEN radio.

“He’s at his best when he’s fully present, he’s there for his players and working on building that most-basic connection.

“If you’ve got that right, then you can work on the game plans and the tactics.

“I think for him to do that in his seventh year … I think he deserves enormous credit.”

Sceptics question WA message in a bottle

The world’s oldest known message in a bottle has been found on a beach near WA.A Perth businessman is rejecting suggestions his discovery of a 132-year-old message in a bottle on a West n beach is an elaborate hoax.
SuZhou Night Recruitment

Kym Illman is fending off the scepticism after claiming his wife Tonya found a remarkably well-preserved note, dated 1886 and written by the captain of the German sailing barque “Paula”, within an almost pristine, unsealed Dutch gin bottle that was partly buried in sand about 50 metres inland near Wedge Island.

The pair brought the items to the Western n Museum, which concluded they had made a historic and record-breaking find.

But the fact there’s a remarkable connection between the name of Mr Illman’s company and the find – not to mention his well-known penchant for securing free promotion through “ambush marketing” – has sceptics asking if this is just another publicity stunt.

He admits the coincidence is both remarkable and fortuitous.

“It couldn’t have fallen into better hands,” he told AAP.

Mr Illman scoffed at the suggestion he could have mocked up a fake so convincing it fooled the experts, but accepts most people would expect such old objects to be in worse condition.

“If I’ve shonky-ed this up, I’m even better than I think I am,” he said.

“To get access to the name of the boat, where it was on a certain day – because it’s not online anywhere – you’d have to go into the annals in Germany, get the information, find a bottle of that vintage and put it up there, wrap a note so that the indent of the rope is visible.

That would be the greatest fluke in the world if I managed to pull off a scam like that. If I’ve done it, I am a genius.”

Museum assistant curator of maritime archaeology Ross Anderson said he was surprised the bottle and message were in such good condition.

But there were other rare examples of objects kept intact by a perfect micro-environment.

He said it must have come ashore within six to 12 months of being jettisoned and spent the years buried in sand, with the tight rolling of the paper aiding its preservation.

“We’ve done as much as we can to corroborate the find,” Dr Anderson told AAP.

The museum says it is one of thousands of bottles that were thrown overboard during a 69-year-long research project by the German Naval Observatory, which sought information about global ocean currents by asking finders to report where and when a bottle had been recovered.

Offshoots of the observatory verified the authenticity of the message found by the Illmans, which matched other records written by Paula’s captain that were stored in German archives.

It is now believed to be the world’s oldest message in a bottle ever discovered and is being assessed for a Guinness World Record.

2018 Herald Women’s Premier League starts on March 11

LAUNCH TIME: Representatives from the seven Herald Women’s Premier League teams gathered at Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility on Tuesday ahead of the 2018 season, which kicks off on Sunday. Picture: Simone De PeakThe 10thHerald Women’s Premier League season starts on Sunday and competition is expected to be fierce with five current and several former W-League players spread throughout the seven teams. This is how theyare shaping up:
SuZhou Night Recruitment

ADAMSTOWNCoach: Paul Devitis.Last season: Finished third. Squad news:Rosebud are withoutlong-serving wide player Emily Frost and her loss will be felt on and off the field by the tight-knit group.Fearless leader Clare Cummings plays with her heart on her sleeve and will again be key to Rosebud’s success, along with midfielders Elodie Dagg and Jorjia Hogg. United States-based strike weapon Lauren Allan scored 16 goals in eight appearances last season and will be a welcome addition when she returns early in the second round for another cameo. Bottom line: They retain the core of a talented young squad which has maintained the club’splaceinfinals football despite goingthrough a rebuilding phase since 2015and should be in the mix again.

MEREWETHERCoach: Cassie Koppen. Last season: Finished second, won the grand final.Squad news: Grand final heroines Sarah Halvorsen and Tayla Braithwaite and midfield lynchpin Jane McDonald are all having the year off. All three have a physical presence on the field and their loss will be evident. United’s attack will remain strong through new signingLeah Giuffre, who returns to the league after several years away, and the return of W-League championship winner Rhali Dobson, who scored 20 goals last season. They also have former Jetsplayer Grace Macintyre in the middle of the park and Alison Logue in goals.Bottom line: A benchmark side for the past few seasons witharguably the best defence in the league, they will be in the fight for the minor premiership.

Read more: Rhali rejoins Merewether

NEW LAMBTONCoach: Keelan Hamilton. Last season: Did not play WPL. Squad news:Joey Burgess, Tara Andrews and Stacey Day are key signings. Burgess has 40 caps for the Matildas and played over 60 W-League games,Andrews has two caps for and over 75 national level appearances for Newcastleand Day is a former Jet. They have alsopicked up experienced WPL goalkeeper Darcie Bell and striker Georgia Amess. Bottom line:The Eagles may bethe new kids on the block but they do not intend to just make up numbers in their first year.They will be a mix of youth and experience and how theyoung squad handle the week-in, week-out intensity of senior football willbe the telling factor.

Read more: Key signings for Eagles

SOUTH WALLSENDCoaches: Brad Parkes and Gary Wilson.Last season: Finished fifth.Squad news:The Wolves’ biggest losseshave been Stacey Day to New Lambton and Laura Byrnes to injury but they have picked up a swag of experienced players. Former WPL player of the yearTracy Baker-Holmes returns to football aftertwo seasons out with a knee reconstruction. Former Young Matildas strikerBeth Kermode also makes a return to WPL after starting a family. They have four players with W-League experience in new signings Alesha Clifford and Olivia Kennedy and returning players Gemma Pearce and Maddy Searl. Bottom line: Inconsistency and a lack of depth was South Wallsend’s biggest enemy last year. They are finals contenders on paper and consistency and how quickly they gel will be key factors.

THORNTONCoach: Robbie Richardson. Last season: Finished last. Squad news: They have lost Jenna Kennedy and Sarah Bennett to New Lambton and goalkeeper Danielle Redding to Wallsend. Captain Sophie Milton only played a handful of games last year but is fully on deck this season in a big boost to a side which has also strengthened with the signings ofOlivia Tannock from Football Queensland’swomen’s National Premier League and central midfielderLauren Rouse-Upjohn, who played in Germany’s Bundesliga 2for SV Bardenbach.Bottom line: They showed some promising signs in patches last season but struggled to be consistent for a full 90-minute match and only managed to win two games. The Redbacks have probably the most experience this year that they have had since joining the competition in 2015 butatop-four finish might still betoo far a stretch this season as they continue to rely on a lot of youth.

Read more: Merewether win grand final thriller in come-from-behind win

WALLSENDCoach: Marc Hingston. Last season: Finished sixth. Squad news:They have lost leader and midfield force Keely Gawthrop but still have the ever-consistent and dependable central player Laura Hall as well former Jets player Libby Copus-Brown. The addition of fleet-footed Sass Seaborn from Warners Bay will be a big boost and the Red Devils have picked up Danielle Redding in goals.Bottom line: Wallsend played a good brand of football last year but at times struggled in the final third. The recruitment of proven goalscorer Seaborn should help address that and the return ofMarc Hingston, who coached them to a grand final appearance in 2016, means they will be well-drilled and supremely fit but without many big-name players they may struggle to finish in the top four.

WARNERS BAYCoach: Cassidy Davis. Last season: Finished first, lost grand final. Squad news: They have lost the ever-improving Sass Seaborn, goalkeeper Rhiannon Hines and possibly former W-League defender Brooke Miller through injury. Butlast year’s minor premiers and state cup champions have picked up Jets player Tara Pender, who can play anywhere, and will still be well-led by steely captain Nadja Squires and Jets pair Cassidy Davis and Jenna Kingsley, who scored 35 goals in 21 games last yearincluding a grand final hat-trick. Bottom line:Despite some big losses, theyretainthe core of a side which were 2016 champions and last year’s yardstick and should push for more silverware again.

Read more: Jets player stays local to strengthen WPL

Round 1, March 11Wallsend v New Lambton, at The Gardens, 2.30pm;

Adamstown v Thornton, at Adamstown Oval, 2.30pm;

Warners Bay v South Wallsend, at John Street Oval, 2.30pm;

Merewether –bye.

Tigers retain blueprint for AFL success

Jack Riewoldt kicked two goals in Richmond’s 2017 AFL grand final win over Adelaide.Richmond star Jack Riewoldt believes the Tigers still have the blueprint for premiership success as they prepare to defend their AFL crown.
SuZhou Night Recruitment

Riewoldt spoke to reporters at the launch of the AFL’s Kick 2 Kick program at the MCG on Tuesday and said it was important for his teammates not to forget the lessons of last season.

“Naturally you think back and reminisce. All the players who played in the grand final are still on our list … so there’s moments when we reflect on that,” Riewoldt said.

“We also like to look back and see how we played the game because we think that’s important.

“Certainly the back end of last year and the grand final was the way that we wanted to play … it’s a blueprint for us going into this year.

“It’s only natural to do that but our focus is firmly on the 2018 season.”

Riewoldt forecast a continuation of the high-pressure game style that propelled Damien Hardwick’s side to grand final success against Adelaide.

While happy to continue to relive the 48-point win, Riewoldt has seen no signs of complacency and declared the Tigers are hungry for more success.

“I think as leaders we’re constantly on the look out for areas that we can improve in and making sure that we’re steering the ship in the right direction,” he said.

“But you look at day one of pre-season and how the players came back … obviously we were coming off the highest of highs in winning a premiership but our players came back as professionally as we could have asked.

“As leaders we’ve seen no lag there … we’re excited to attack the season.”

Richmond play their final pre-season series match against North Melbourne at Ikon Park on Wednesday night.

Ahmed lifts Vics as NSW feel Shield blues

Victoria’s Glenn Maxwell and Fawad Ahmed played key roles in their Shield win over NSW.Victoria’s hopes of extending their three-year dominance of the Sheffield Shield seemed dead and buried a month ago but a tense 23-run win over NSW continued a dramatic turnaround for the Bushrangers.
SuZhou Night Recruitment

NSW were on track for a famous victory as they chased 309 on a challenging Junction Oval batting wicket, after they began day four at 2-150.

With Moises Henriques (49) and Peter Nevill (26) at the crease the Blues were marching toward a much-needed win, before Fawad Ahmed had his say.

NSW, at one stage, required just 35 runs with four wickets in hand, only for legspinner Ahmed to run through the tail and earn figures of 5-94.

“We knew that if we got a new batter on that wicket, especially against Fawad who is so dangerous against the tail, we would have a great advantage,” Victoria captain Aaron Finch said.

“(Peter) Siddle and (Scott) Boland were exceptional early in controlling the run rate and we didn’t get rewards early, but we got them late.”

Victoria resumed after the mid-season break last on the Shield standings but have jumped to second with one round of matches remaining.

NSW, conversely, have slipped from top spot after a winless run in the past four matches.

Victoria are chasing a rare fourth-straight title and Finch believes his side have found form at the right end of the season, after four home draws on the lifeless MCG pitch earlier in the summer.

“The rewards are coming for us at this end of the season,” he said.

“We are starting to play a lot better cricket, this game and last game.

“It has been simple plans and hard graft from our players.”

Defeat effectively ends NSW’s Shield hopes, barring an unlikely series of results.

It comes despite bowling out Victoria on day one for just 199, as spinner Steve O’Keefe took career-best figures of 8-77 and a 10-wicket match haul.

NSW had little luck on the final day with opener Daniel Hughes dismissed hit-wicket for 59, while Kurtis Patterson was run out for 53 thanks to brilliant fielding from Glenn Maxwell.

Ahmed said Victoria are “absolutely” pushing for more Shield glory..

“We played some good cricket in these past few games and hopefully we can continue this momentum,” he said.

“We have a really good side and a good mix (of players). We are on a roll now.”

Victoria can still overhaul leaders Queensland and earn hosting rights for the final.

If they do so, they will have the opportunity to play at the newly-redeveloped Junction Oval, having taken their past two finals to Alice Springs.

State action needed to fix Stockton erosion

NSW Government action and funding are needed for a long-term solution to Stockton’s worsening erosion issues.There is no quick fix to this longstanding threat, but it’s now more urgent than ever – as parts of the suburb sit on the precipice.
SuZhou Night Recruitment

Council took leadership on this issue, recently meeting with members of the Department of Premier and Cabinet, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) and the NSW Government’s Coastal Panel to work towards the best viable solution to protect Stockton.On Wednesday the council will hold an information session to update the community, inviting other agencies to ensure everyone is on the same page.The meeting will bring together the council, OEH, Lands and Environment, the Environmental Protection Agency, Mission and Hunter Water to provide an update on Newcastle’s Coastal Zone Management Plan.The gathering at Stockton RSL will also canvass current erosion management issues, the childcare centre, recent repairs to the Mitchell Street seawall and remediation of the old landfill site.

The council has been calling for action at Stockton for more than a decade.A study done 10 years ago recommended an artificial headland with beach nourishment to solve the suburb’s shoreline woes, but our 2009 funding request to the-then premier was met only with instruction to reconsider the proposed works.Council reviewed all potential options in a draftNewcastle Coastal Zone Management Study, which proffered extension of the Mitchell Street seawall northward – with beach nourishment to the south – as the best financially viable solution.

The council adopted the Newcastle Coastal Zone Management Plan in November 2016 and submitted to the Department of Planning.In it, the council identified other options to protect Stockton, including beach nourishment, an offshorebreakwall, an artificial headland and an artificial reef.

But the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage (OEH) rejected the plan, citing the need for a cost-benefit analysis and further interaction with other government agencies.

This leaves us in a tough position as a council because the cost of a genuine long-term solution is beyond the revenues of a local government.

These are complex issues that need a collaborative approach from all levels of government together with the community.

Meanwhile, the most recent incidence of erosion has forced StocktonEarly Learning Centre operatorMission to dramatically reduce its play area.Last month’s weather event also exposed a new environmental hazard in the old tip at what used to beHunter Water’s Stocktonsewage treatment plan.

While we are frustrated by the lack of action, we will continue to work with OEH, the community and researchers to find the best technical and most cost-effective solution.

I assure the people of Stockton that the council is doing all it can. After the June 2016 east coast low, when access ways between the surf club and the breakwater and dune vegetation were destroyed, we rolled up our sleeves.The rock seawall and dune we built to protect assets stood up to last month’s worrying events.

The Mitchell Street seawall was built from 1989 to 1990 in partnership with the state government and a sandbag seawall was formed in front of the surf club in 1996 (both were repaired in 2010).

In 2009, a large sand nourishment program was undertaken with the Port of Newcastle, when clean sand dredged from the mouth of the Hunter River was placed off Stockton Beach.

Council has an ongoing partnership with the port to continue this.

As all this shows, we’ve long been doing our bit for Stockton. And we will continue to fight for a long-term solution.

Nuatali Nelmes is the Lord Mayor of Newcastle